Business brought Betty Lewis and her husband to Northeast Alabama. But it was glistening Lake Guntersville that reeled them into Scottsboro.
“I think it’s one of the most beautiful areas in the world,” said Mrs. Lewis, an interior decorator and 37-year resident of Scottsboro.
The 69,000-acre Tennessee River lake is luring lots of new residents to the city of 15,000, located about an hour from Chattanooga.
City officials said there were about 20 subdivisions under construction in Jackson County this spring.
Staff Photo by Gillian Bolsover -- In Scottsboro, Ala., many of the 253 lots on Goose Pond Island’s new Promenade and Oaks subdivisions already are sold.
A showpiece of the residential growth is Goose Pond Island, a 2,700-acre property peppered with palatial homes. Residents include American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.
“People are always looking for water-front property and water availability, and Lake Guntersville is perhaps the premiere lake of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s system of lakes,” said Clint Brady, a managing partner with the Alabama Shoreline company that is adding 253 residential sites to the island.
Home prices at Goose Pond Island developments like The Promenade and The Oaks range from $550,000 to more than a million, Mr. Brady said. Homes on the island must be at least 1,800 square feet, but many are being constructed to exceed that, he said.
Mr. Brady said developers and residents are pleased to be located close to Scottsboro.
“There is a full-range of services there. It’s a nice little, low-key, laid back kind of community that has a lot quaint traditional, Southern values,” he said.
City officials are trying to win the same kind of praise from industrial prospects, said Rick Roden, president of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. He said the area’s unemployment rate has improved from an anemic 13.5 percent five years ago to 4 percent this year.
The key to job growth is diversifying beyond the area’s rich textile history, which has been staggered by economic pressures and global competition, Mr. Roden said. The area’s top employer is still a textile mill, but he said there are also automotive suppliers and a growing tourism base.
“We’ve diversified where we don’t have all our eggs in one basket anymore,” Mr. Roden said.
The same is true in neighboring Fort Payne, Ala., a DeKalb County town of about 14,000. The city is still known as the “Sock Capital of the World,” but Mayor Bill Jordan said the town wants to attract more than textile companies.
Mr. Jordan said a key piece of the city’s industrial growth plan is Interstate 59. The state is slated to begin constructing a third Fort Payne exit off the interstate this summer, which Mr. Jordan said will create a new pipeline to the city’s northern district.
The two-year project is expected to cost about $20 million.
“It’s going to be monumental as far as attracting other industries to look at our city,” Mayor Jordan said. “It’s going to open up a lot of area for economic development and growth.”